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Government Fails to Establish Sugar Board, Cites Funding Shortfall

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The government’s efforts to set up a Sugar Board to regulate the sugar industry have been hindered by a lack of funds, according to the Minister of State for Finance (Privatization and Investment), Evelyn Anite. The Minister explained that despite the assent of the Sugar Bill, the necessary Shs2 billion for the Sugar Board was not allocated in the 2023/2024 budget due to resource constraints arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Appearing before the committee chaired by Hon. Rita Atukwasa on November 22, 2023, Anite revealed that a supplementary budget would be required to facilitate the activities of the Sugar Board. In the meantime, the government has proposed the establishment of a Sugar Council as an interim measure.

Anite emphasized that the financing of the Sugar Board’s activities would need additional funding through a supplementary budget. She clarified that the Sugar Council, to be funded by sugar millers, would operate independently of government resources, as it would be privately financed.

However, Members of Parliament raised concerns about the independence of the proposed council, fearing potential exploitation of sugarcane outgrowers by established millers. Hon. Betty Engola expressed apprehensions about the relationship between millers and outgrowers, while Hon. Apio Eunice pointed out the potential for conflict of interest if the Council is funded by major millers.

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Hon. Geofrey Okello stressed the importance of clarity on how the Council would operate, highlighting the absence of the Sugar Board as a hindrance to the effective implementation of the Sugar Act.

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The Uganda Sugar Manufacturers Association (USMA) had petitioned Parliament against the licensing of new sugar millers, citing concerns about the competition for limited sugarcane leading to the crushing of underage cane, causing losses to outgrower farmers, companies, and the government.